Tag: present

Deferring Happiness

happiness-is-now

I’ve written about various ways to foster more happiness in your life including yoga, meditation, expressing gratitude, and caring for your physical health. All of these things are wonderful ways to be more happy, but we still are not as happy as we could be. Most of us are trapped in thinking that happiness is something we defer until we retire, buy that new house, find a better job, create our own business, have a more fulfilling relationship with our significant other, or any other number of things we feel will make us happy.

Unfortunately this deferring of happiness based on some future event is robbing us of it in the present. I’m not advocating that you abandon your dreams or stop pursuing your goals, but thinking that these things will make you happier is a fallacy. Don’t let the things you want in the future delay the opportunity to be happy today. Each moment that you impose these walls around yourself that are blocking you from being happy in the now are time wasted. That expensive new car, home, or pile of money will only provide temporary happiness; find a way to enjoy today for that is all you are guaranteed. No one is assured of tomorrow, no matter what your age or health. How many years will you have wasted waiting for happiness? If I only had more money, a better job, a more attractive spouse, a bigger house, I could be truly happy. This self deception is stealing away the days, leaving you less available to those around you. Pursue your goals, but make it your purpose to be happy during the journey not the manifestation of these things.

“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Hear

Namaste

Right Mindfulness

The seventh step on the Eightfold Path is Right Mindfulness. Right Mindfulness is about being aware of the world around you and focusing on the present. For most of us this is very difficult to do, as we are always obsessing over what happened yesterday or what we need to do tomorrow.

right-mindfulness

Through Right Mindfulness we are looking to create a greater awareness of everything around us, not hiding from it, but fully absorbing it. We are seeking to understand our true nature by being fully aware. Right Mindfulness then also implies focus and concentration. Maybe you have found this through playing an instrument, writing, or playing sports. This was a time when you were totally focused on one thing, in the zone if you will. The question for us is are there ways we can cultivate Right Mindfulness? Let me give you a few examples of simple ways that at least might set the stage for it:

  • When you go to a meeting leave your phone at your desk.
  • When you are talking with someone, stop and listen to them instead of formulating what you want to say next.
  • If you are reading at home turn off the television.
  • Turn your phone to silent mode, and stop looking at it every 5 minutes.
  • Turn off email notifications.
  • Go take a walk and use your eyes and ears.
  • Stop worrying about the future, it will soon be here, and worrying is pointless.
  • Seek out a hobby or activity that requires concentration as this will help  you focus on the present.

If you like to worry about the future, remember there is no better preparation for the future than to be completely focused on the present. Great things are accomplished now, not yesterday, or tomorrow.

Right Mindfulness can lead to an uncluttered mind and this sets the stage for the ability to focus on the present. In my next post I will write about Right Concentration.

Namaste

 

It’s a choice – Part 3

It’s a choice – Part 3

I know that in “It’s a choice – Part 2” I mentioned that this post would be about how nutrition contributes to making positive choices, but on further reflection I decided that it is not only obvious, but it is something you can research on your own. I don’t want to insult your intelligence with some rant regarding the virtues of veganism or admonishing simple sugars from you diet. You know what you should be doing, so just do it; remember the saying garbage in, garbage out. It’s not that I won’t write about nutrition, it is is just that there are other things that need to be said regarding choosing a positive path that are maybe less obvious than nutrition.

In “It’s a choice – Part 2” I mentioned that to set the stage for positive outcomes you must prepare yourself with supporting practices such as yoga, walking, or running in the morning, followed by meditation and affirmations. While I am resolute in my support of these practices, I can tell you that they only provide the environment where positive thoughts can grow. Yoga, walking, running, meditation and affirmations are analogous to tilling and watering the soil so crops can grow, but without an adequate amount of sunshine there will be no harvest. This post is about the other factors, that must come into play so that you can reap the harvest of a positive attitude and approach towards your life.

Let’s look at three things you can and must do to make that positive choice in your life on a daily basis.

  1. Cultivating Self Awareness
  2. Living in the present
  3. Being Grateful

Cultivating self awareness should be near the top of your list because without it you will find making daily corrections nearly impossible. If you can have enough awareness to know that a negative stimuli is about to create a negative response you are in a pretty good position to choose a different response. Self awareness allows you to realize when you are starting to go of course and make a correction, otherwise you are likely to continue down whatever negative path you started to go down. These paths might be anger, resentment, a feeling of superiority, or some other negative behavior. Just don’t let self awareness result in some form of self incrimination or guilt. Know that being self aware is a big step in changing or at least minimizing negative behavior, for without it you are just a member of the large group of reacting beings and you know what that often results in.

I’ve written about living in the present in the past, but the importance of it can never be stressed enough. True focus is always in the present and the present is also where happiness exists, certainly not in looking back, and not in the future. There is a quote I really like by Esther Hicks:

“Your life is right now! It’s not later! It’s not in the time of retirement. It’s not when the lover gets here. It’s not when you’ve moved into the new house. It’s not when you get the better job. Your life is right now. It will always be right now. You might at as well decide to start enjoying your life right now, because it’s not ever going to get better than right now-until it gets better right now!”

I think this quote says it better than I could ever say it. Live in the present if you can and you will have become one of the few that understands the absolute power in doing so.

If you struggle with finding ways to appreciate your life, you are probably missing the feeling of being grateful. You will note I didn’t say trying to be grateful, but really feeling grateful or blessed for what you have. If you cannot find a way to feel grateful for what you have you will always be in a state of wanting. People who live their life appreciating what they have will be much happier than  those that are always unsatisfied and wanting more. There are a number of ways you might do this, like daily journals, or going over a list of things you are grateful for, but whatever method you choose it must be a daily occurrence or the mind will wander into the future and your ego will get the best of you. I like to review the 10 or 15 things I am grateful for both big and small things after I am done meditating; this seems to ground me for the day. Another way to feel grateful is to simply look around you, and observe those in the world that have so little; you don’t need to look far.

Finally it is the person that performs these things everyday that reaps the true benefit. I find myself that when I miss my meditation session, which then causes me to miss saying my affirmations and thinking about what I am grateful for, the rest of my day is almost always less satisfying, more stressful, and not a lot of fun. This preparation of your body and mind each days is essential to obtaining the right frame of mind to make positive behavioral choices. I get up at 4:30 a.m. each day and by 5:30 a.m. I am out the door for a run/walk or on my yoga mat, back by 6:00 a.m. to meditate and wrap it up with some affirmations and making sure I am grateful. This might seem extreme, but it is this kind of preparation that gives me the energy and a positive attitude to deal with all the work day challenges.

Try this for a couple of weeks and you will begin to reap the rewards.

Namaste

 

 

 

Your life is right now!

Your life is right now!

I have this app on my phone that you get inspirational quotes from, and the other day I was checking it out in the morning like I normally do and the following came up:

“Your life is right now! It’s not later! It’s not in that time of retirement. It’s not when the lover gets here. It’s not when you’ve moved into the new house. It’s not when you get the better job. Your life is right now. It will always be right now. You might as well decide to start enjoying your life right now, because it’s not ever going to get better than right now-until it gets better right now!” Esther Hicks

I don’t normally make the focus of a post on a quote alone, but in this case I had to make an exception. For some reason reading this a couple days ago just seemed to resonate with me, as I have been struggling to stay focused in the present, often drifting into future mode. Future mode is a slippery slope and tends to lead to nothing but cycles of envision, want, plan and acquire, followed by another cycle of envision, want, plan and acquire. Oddly enough this reminds me of my job as a Project Manager, anyways it is no way to live your life.

Hope you enjoy this quote and take it to heart. Stay in the present my friend.

Namaste

Being present and productivity

Being present and productivity

Everyone seeks to be more productive and for some that means doing more of something.  For others it might be producing work that is higher quality, so there needs to be some definition around just what is productivity?

Live In the Present

Merriam Webster’s dictionary definition is: “the quality or state of being productive”, at Dictionary.com they define it as “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services”. Either definition will suffice for my argument. I believe that living in the moment creates what others call flow or focus and this in turn can make one productive. The focus obtained from living in the moment allows you to create, generate, enhance, or bring forth goods and services, i.e. be productive. When are you really productive at home or work? I would guess it is when you are truly present and focused on what you are doing right now. Your mind is focused on what you are currently doing, not thoughts of the future, or some wandering down memory lane into the past. True productivity is for those people that can live in the moment, focus, and get into the flow.

Why are there so many articles written about managing your time and task management? They exist because we all have allowed ourselves to become so distracted by email, text messages, schedules, requests, that compete for our mind share right now, and the next 10, 20, 30, 60, or 90 minutes of our life. The living in the present mindset allows you to spend your time on what is important, which of course leads to greater productivity.  This is why I have spent so much time lately making a case for living in the moment, because I know we all want to contribute something to those around us and we also need to be productive for our own peace of mind. Stay in the moment, focused on the most important things and the rest will fall into place.

Namaste

Living in the Moment

Living in the Moment

I was taking a look at LinkedIn the business social media website the other day and someone had posted a quote from the Dalai Lama:

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present: the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

I thought this was a pretty profound statement by one of the greatest spiritual leaders of our time. It made me consider my own behavior and motivations. It seems our future orientation, often with a fixation on acquiring wealth, position, power, and things prevents us from living in the present. I guess most of the time I can at least claim that I do not live in the past, but I am surely not fully living in the present. I seem to be fixated on what’s next, what do I need to achieve, the next thing I need to acquire (car, phone, home), how much more money I can earn, and the future sense of satisfaction that I will feel. This is really a fools game when you think about it. Have you ever recieved a large raise or cash windfall? How long was it before whatever sense of satisfaction you felt just faded away? For me it was a matter of days, maybe even less. All the time invested in this quest for material gratification only made me less accessible and less aware of what was happening around me. I truly lived in the future and was never very happy with the present.

past-future-present

What is really ironic about living with this future oriented mindset is that you go through life as quoted above anxious about the future and not enjoying the present. I’m sure much of this future orientation comes from our desire to judge our success in terms of wealth or how much we have acquired. So the more money I make, the larger my house, having an expensive car, and spending lavishly on vacations motivates us and we buy into the idea that this makes us happy. As future oriented people we are also driven by fear; this might be a fear of not having enough money to retire or the fear that we will lose our wealth or possessions. Goals are great, but to live in the present means that the motivation to achieve these goals must be something other than accumulating wealth or avoiding disaster. How will our life change if we start to focus on living in the present.  My assumption going forward is that when you really think about it is all you have is this very moment. All my elaborate plans go right out the window if I succumb to a stroke or die in a car accident going home today. If you can live with the notion that the most important time we have is now then let me take a stab at a few reasons why we should change our mindset:

Increased happiness – Instead of spending all your time thinking about the future and what your next acquisition will be you are focused on this very moment. You are not agonizing on future choices, what you need to achieve next, or something you need to prepare for. You are just focused on what is happening all around you, right at this moment. There is a sense of calm that happens when you are not thinking about what I need to do next, and your stress levels begin to diminish and your attitude starts to improve, you are starting to feel what some people call being happy.

Being connected – If I am always talking to you about what I am going to do in the future and how I need to work on this or that for some future reward, I’m probably not even listening to what you are saying and much worse I don’t really care because I am on a quest. Do you know people like this? Maybe a co-worker, a brother, a sister, a friend, a parent, a spouse. They are very busy people, but they are not connected to you in the moment. They may have feelings for you or care about you, but they don’t have time to show you or time to listen you, they are much to busy. Living in the present allows us to spend time with people and become available, to hear what they are saying, to show empathy, and to make a better connection.

Mastery – When you look around you at those people that have become masterful at something in their life, maybe it is music, sports, writing, or teaching you find that they invest in the present. I would suggest that a great pianist or violinist doesn’t spend their time thinking about how much money they will make or what material thing they will acquire next. Instead they are focused in the moment knowing that their focus will let them acquire something more than wealth or things, but it will result in mastery. Don’t get me wrong mastery can have material consequences, but it starts with living in the moment and focus. I would suggest the primary motivation is to get very good at something, to master it someday, and this alone creates happiness.

There are many other benefits to living in the moment, and we didn’t really make much headway on how you develop that mindset, but we can save that for some other time. It is Friday night and as much as I enjoy writing and posting I think I need to go spend a few moments with some special people.

Enjoy the weekend!